Two polls out today have the Conservatives and Labour neck and neck, while another has Labour ahead by two points. Lord Ashcroft’s national poll has the two main parties at 33 per cent — both up on last week — while Ukip is on 12 per cent, the Lib Dems on eight and Greens on five. Tonight’s YouGov /Sun poll has a similar outlook, with the Tories and Labour tied on 34 per cent, Ukip on 12, the Lib Dems eight and Greens six. Populus, however, has Labour two points ahead on 33 per cent, putting the Conservatives on 31 per cent, Ukip on 16, the Lib Dems on nine and Greens on five.
The polls have moved around a little last seven days, but not in any particular direction. Last Monday, the Tories were ahead in two polls and behind in two others. There was a slight post-Budget bounce in the middle of the week, which the Observer/Opinium said had risen to three per cent yesterday, but the Sunday Times/YouGov had Labour ahead by two points. While everything above is still within the margin of error, Conservatives are now facing the concerning prospect of entering the general election campaign without a significant or steady lead in the polls.
The economic trustworthiness numbers in Lord Ashcroft’s latest polling confirm that George Osborne and Cameron still remain a formidable leadership duo. According to Ashcroft, 43 per cent prefer Cameron and Osborne to run the economy, compared to 25 per cent to Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. Although this hasn’t changed significantly since before the Budget, this 18-point lead is something Conservatives HQ will continue to try and exploit as the campaign draws near.
Serious matters aside, Lord Ashcroft has asked his focus groups this week which signer or band the party leaders would be. Miliband would be an inoffensive group, such as Wham or Daniel O’Donnell. Nick Clegg would be a middle-of-the-road group such as the Lighthouse Family or Simply Red. Nigel Farage would either be Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols or The Wurzels. David Cameron on the other hand would be Gary Barlow from Take That, Coldplay or Justin Bieber. No.10 will be hoping tonight that, despite the rush of blood to the head from after his remarks to the BBC about not going for a third term, fellow Tories will never forget his electoral appeal.